Here are some "tricks of the trade" about Betamax VCRs, as asked for, and submitted by, fellow Beta-philes!   Your submissions are welcomed!  E-mail me!


CONTENTS: (click on link in each line to go to the article)
Modifying the SL-HF900 for B-Is Record/Play
Using a Japanese Betamax in the U.S.
Quirks of the GCS-50 Editing Deck
Quirks and features of the SL-HF1000 Editing Deck
How to spool VHS tape into a Beta cassette
How to change an EDV-30F ED Beta into a EDV9500 (almost)


THE SL-HF900 B-Is Rec/Play Modification
as published in the Beta Informer, April 13, 1998 issue.

Thanks to Bob Krovetz for providing this!!
    BOB KROVETZ <[email protected]>

    I saved the following posting from I am submitting it for information only (if you screw up your Betamax following the instructions it is not my fault!):

    Article 8095 of

    For you fellow Sony SL-HF900 fans out there in netland who missed the mod, here is my most up-to-date proven procedure. So far I have modified two units sucessfully and another person has modified his unit sucessfully using this procedure.


    This modification enables an SL-HF900 to have the same record/playback capabilities as the SL-HF750:

    o Record only in BIs (not in regular BI) o Playback BIs (when SuperBeta switch is on) o Playback BI (when SuperBeta switch is off) o BIs is recorded regardless of the position of the SuperBeta switch. 

    There are 4 steps to the modification:

    1. Enabling the recording mode switch for 3 position operation.

    2. Enabling the A' and B' heads to be selected in BIs recording.

    3. Enabling the BII/BIII deemphasis to be selected instead of BI(normal) deemphasis when playing back in BIs.

    4. Enabling the BI gain for the chroma recording level.


    ____________________________________________________________________________ ___

    Qty Sony PN Description Unit Price Total Price

    ____________________________________________________________________________ ___

    3 8-729-900-89 Transistor DTC144ES $ 1.00 $ 3.00 1 8-719-911-19 Diode 1SS119 $ 0.65 $ 0.65 1 1-515-529-11 Relay $ 11.75 $ 11.75 1 1-247-831-00 Resistor 1K $ 0.20 $ 0.20 (any old 1/8W 1K resistor will do) Shipping and handling from Sony: $ 1.50 Total Cost: $ 17.00

    ____________________________________________________________________________ ___


    1. Remove the top cover (4 screws). Remove bottom cover (approx 10 screws). Remove front panel (4 screws and four snap retainers).

    2. On the front panel, locate the hole for the record mode switch and notice that the panel hole is larger than the trim cover hole. Using an X-acto knife, cut the trim cover to the same size as the panel hole for the record mode switch so the switch can slide to the left.

    3. On the FR-14 Cassette Switch Control board, locate S019 (record mode switch) and remove the white plastic piece that prevents the switch from sliding to the left.

    4. Locate the FP-4 Power Switch Board just to the left of the cassette door. Gently pull the lower locking tab away from the board and lift the board out of its mount.

    5. Locate the FF-3 TV/VTR Switch Board just to the right of the cassette door. Gently pull the lower locking tab away from the board and lift the board out of its mount.

    6. Unsnap the Peak Level Meter module from its mounting location, unplug its cable from the FR-14 board, and remove the meter module.

    7. Loosen the FR-14 board by removing the 3 screws holding it. >>NOTE<< THAT THE CENTER SCREW IS LONGER THAN THE TWO SIDE SCREWS. Because all cabling to the board is soldered, not socketed, the board cannot be removed. Lift and rotate the top of the board away from the unit to gain access to the solder side of the board.

    8. At S019 (record mode switch), solder an insulated wire on the solder side of the board from the leftmost terminal of the switch to the junction of R19 and R20.

    9. Reinstall the FR-14 board, makeing sure the long screw is used in the center and the short screws on the sides)

    10. Reinstall the FF-3 board, the FP-4 board, and the Peak Level Meter module (don't forget to plug it back in).

    11. Reinstall the front panel. When installing the front panel, take care that the audio level sliders and record button properly engage the controls and switch on the FR-14 board. Ensure that the two retainers on each side are properly snapped into place.

    12. Power up the VCR and verify, by sliding the record mode switch thru all three positions, that the indicator on the front display switches thru BI, BII, & BIII.


    1. Set the unit up on it's right side (cassette mech end up) with the bottom toward you, remove the four screws holding the SS-53 System Servo Board, and rotate the board down out of the way.

    2. Unplug the cable harness feeding the bottom of the RP-24 board (board inside metal shield behind cassette mechanism).

    3. Move the SS-53 board back into position and tack it in place with one screw (do not fully reinstall yet) and set the unit back down.

    4. Remove the two screws holding the RP-24 box and gently pull the RP-24 board up far enough until you can unsnap and remove the front cover of the box.

    5. Unplug the two cables connected to the RP-24 board and remove the RP-24 board box from the VCR.

    6. Remove the rear cover of the RP-24 board box to gain access to the solder side. 

    7. Locate RY1 on the board, unsolder and remove the 2 jumpers in the square, and install the relay (1-515-529-11). Due to pin spacing, the relay can only be installed one way.

    8. Locate D001 and install the diode (8-719-911-19). Match the band on the diode to the band on the silkscreen legend on the board.

    9. Locate Q012 and install a transistor (8-729-900-89). Match the outline of transistor case to outline of silkscreen legend on the board.

    10. Locate JW24 (jumper missing) and install a jumper wire.

    11. Locate R085 (missing) and install a jumper wire (not a resistor).

    12. Reinstall the rear cover on the RP-24 board box, hold the box in place in machine, connect the two cables unplugged in step 5, reinstall the front cover, move the RP-24 box into place, and secure it with two screws.

    13. Set the unit up on it's right side (cassette mech end up) with the bottom toward you, remove the screw holding the SS-53 System Servo Board and rotate the board down out of the way.

    14. Reconnect the cable to the bottom of the RP-24 board.

    15. Move the SS-53 board back into position and secure it with four screws.

    16. Observe the VI-10 board and locate CN203 and CN204. Ensure that the jumper located between the two connectors is installed. If there is no jumper there:

    a. Set the unit up on it's left side (cassette mech end down) with the bottom toward you.

    b. Remove the four screws holding the VI-10 System Servo Board and rotate the board down.

    c. Install the missing jumper between CN203 and CN204.

    d. Move the VI-10 board back into position and tack it in place with one screw (do not fully reinstall yet). 

    17. Set the unit back down.

    18. Power up the VCR and verify that when sliding the record mode switch to the BI position, a clicking sound is heard (the new relay on RP24 board picks to select A'B' heads). A very faint click may be heard when switching out of BI as the relay deenergizes.


    1. Set the unit up on it's left side (cassette mech end down) with the bottom toward you.

    2. Remove the four screws holding the VI-10 System Servo Board and rotate the board down.

    3. Locate Q723 and remove the jumper (looks like a resistor) between the emitter and collector.

    4. Install transistor (8-729-900-89). Match the outline of the transistor case to outline of the silkscreen legend on the board.

    5. Locate JW168 (jumper missing) and install jumper wire.

    6. Locate JW88 (jumper missing) and install jumper wire.

    7. Do not reassemble. Proceed to the next section.


    1. Locate Q659 and install a transistor (8-729-900-89). Match the outline of the transistor case to the outline of silkscreen legend on the board.

    2. Locate R677 and install the 1K resistor (1-247-831-00).

    3. Move the VI-10 board back into position and secure it with four screws.

    4. Reinstall the bottom panel and secure it. Set the unit back down and reinstall the top cover.


    Record material in BIs and verify picture quality (if your VCR was adjusted properly before this modification, there shouldn't be any adjustment needed for recording/playback in BIs.)


    Don't forget to leave the SuperBeta switch on when playing back BIs tapes otherwise the picture will be distorted.

    As special effects (slow motion and freeze) are optimized for BII and BIII, there may be noise bars in BI special effects.

There are four areas that you must be concerned with when operating a Japanese Betamax in this country.

a) These machines play back through Japanese TV channels 1 or 2. Their built-in RF modulators are worthless over here. You must use them using the video and audio outputs into a monitor or another VCR. 
b) These units do not pick up American TV channels 2-4. And, it's doubtful that their tuners will pick up our channels in stereo. 
c) You MUST plug these into a voltage regulator, because they are made to operate at 100 volts, not 110. They will probably run too hot after a few hours and damage may result. 
d) The Japanese warranty will not be valid here in the U.S.

The advantages of owning a Japanese Beta?  First, they all have linear stereo as well as Beta Hi-Fi stereo, so they have, in effect, 4 audio channels!  Also, selected models record at the B-Is speed (most notably, the Japanese SL-HF900). Contrary to popular belief, the ED-Beta machines from Japan do NOT record at B-I.  Also, they seem to have slightly better picture quality than our American-market Betas, and be better built.  Also, there are some models made for the Japanese market that were never released here, nor did they have an American counterpart (see the Japanese Betas picture page).
                              ---- Ray Glasser

                    QUIRKS OF THE GCS-50 EDITING DECK
  The GCS-50 Editor is essentially an SL-HF1000 without a remote or tuner.  It has flying erase heads, does video and audio insert edits, and has a wonderful locking jog/shuttle wheel.
   What makes this unit unique is that it also has LINEAR STEREO audio, giving it a total of four audio channels!  When you access the linear tracks, you can hear them in both forward and reverse scan.  Also, like on a U-Matic 3/4" deck, you can insert audio on EITHER Ch. 1, OR Ch. 2, or BOTH (on the linear track).  In effect, this lets you audio dub in stereo - something that most home Betas cannot do.
    One unique quirk I discovered, quite by accident, about this deck is that when you are recording stereo audio, you can access either the L or R channels as the audio comes INTO the machine....this is because the STEREO/L/R switch is mechanical, not electronic.  On most home Betas, you can only access L or R channels on PLAYBACK; you can do it in the RECORD or STOP mode on this unit!
     This unit also is the only Beta that I know of to have a Framing Servo switch, I'm still not sure what it is for.
     And, almost forgot: this unit records in either B-Is or BII, There is a small rocker switch under the jog/shuttle dial, it's usually covered by a piece of sticky tape. Remove the tape and just jiggle the switch, and watch the record speed indicator change!   And by the way, like the SL-HF1000, the GCS-50 ONLY records in B-Is, not X-1.  This unit will play back all 3 Beta speeds, and does have a switch for SuperBeta (which they call High-Band [the Japanese name]) on or off.
      ---- Ray Glasser


                  QUIRKS AND FEATURES OF THE SL-HF1000
    The SL-HF1000 is easily the most feature-laden Betamax ever released, to date, and probably always will be.  The main features that are found ONLY on this deck, and no other Beta (Sony or otherwise) are:

   *Complete on-screen programming, including a 3-week calendar
    *"Black Screen" mode which lets you record true video black
    *Built-in character generator, featuring complete alpha-numeric selection (and  even the Greek "B" used for the Beta logo!), available in 4 sizes, and either  transparent or black-squares as a background
    *Auto-Playback button on the remote, which lets you forward or rewind to 0:00:00  and go to the PLAY mode
    One feature NOT in the owners manual is a quick way to turn the character generator instantly on or off.  Once your titles are on the screen, if you put the MPX FILTER switch over to PCM, the titles disappear.  A nice thing to know if you wish to momentarily insert titles on the screen then take them off, or flash them on/off!
                        --- Ray Glasser

(Following taken from the PALSITE Beta Chat Page,  author unknown.....)

For ye who have SL-HF1000, there's a quirky feature that is not mentioned in the manual.

If you switch the audio monitor to linear audio, and hit the "Assemble Edit" button, the linear audio track will suddenly come alive -- in any transport mode (um, except pause/stop).

One fun way of using this was few years ago, a local radio station was having a contest. To win, you need to decipher a song they've recorded backwards. So I just hooked up my FM tuner to the SL-HF1000. Record it. And then do the above thing, and use the jog/shuttle dial and do a 1x reverse playback.

Definitely one of the cool things you can do on the SL-HF1000... 


HOW TO SPOOL VHS TAPE INTO A BETA       CASSETTE! published in the Beta Informer, June 29,1998, issue.

1. Making sure both BETA and VHS cassettes have been fully fast-forwarded to their ends, carefully open the old BETA and the new VHS shell by undoing the screws on the bottom. 2. Once the screws are out, turn the shells right side up. 3. Carefully remove the top covers without snagging the tape. (before removing the covers on BETA tapes be sure to depress the clip holding the tape lid shut) 4. On the BETA, take a pair of scissors and snip the tape about 12 inches away from the end of the leader.

(You will need this 12 or so inches for lining up your SPLICE later on.) 5. Now snip the end leader from the VHS tape. 6. Remove the empty VHS reel from its shell. You now have, in effect, 4 separate reels; 1 empty BETA, 1 full BETA, 1 empty VHS, 1 full VHS. 8. Take the empty BETA reel and put it in the VHS shell where the empty VHS reel was paying special attention to how the tape is threaded in the VHS shell. 9. SPLICE the VHS tape onto the BETA leader. 10. Close the VHS cassette using the screws and place it in your VHS rewinder. The VHS tape will wind effortlessly onto the BETA reel .

*CAREFULLY WATCH on the amount being rewound, as you don't want to overfill your BETA reel!

11. Once there is a sufficient amount of tape wound on to your BETA reel (be your own judge) snip off the left over tape. 12. Remove the now full BETA reel from the VHS shell and place it in the lefthand side of the BETA shell.

{You will have to spin off all the old tape on the take up reel of your old beta. Do this by simply holding the center of the spool with your thumb and index finger and proceed to pull the tape downwards, letting the reel spin in your fingers. ( I have mastered this art btw!) Have a garbage can to spin the old tape into as there is a whole roll being discarded. When all the old tape is nearing the end of the spool, snip it off, but again leaving at least 12 inches from the end of the leader.}

13. Place the now empty take up reel into the right side of the BETA shell and SPLICE its leader to the new tape on the supply reel on the left hand side. 14. Thread the tape back through the appropriate guides and rollers within the BETA cassette shell and put the shell back together with the original screws.

This process has worked for me countless times and I have a huge surplus of excellent reconditioned beta tapes to prove it. It can also be done using T-160 VHS tape to make an L-750 and would probably work with a BASF T200 to make an L-830! You'll have to invest in a manual 1/2 inch tape splicer if you don't own one, as this helps to line your splices up accurately at the beginning and ends. Doing this has helped me save money on hard to find blank beta tapes.

Our tip of the hat to Richard Suffern, [email protected]


I'm am a proud owner of a EDV-9500 and a EDW-30f. I used the -30f mostly for editing and playback of tapes recorded on my -9500, due to it's lack of timer and infrared remote capabilities (I'm have a Sat Dish, so no tuner doesn't matter). 

One day about 4 months ago I was rewiring part of my system (adding another switcher - you know anyone that makes a 10x10 switcher?) and I noticed that the 30f had the same case, with a different finish, as the 9500. I wondered if the guts were close enough that maybe some of the "missing" could be added.

To that end, I called Sony and ordered a -30f Service Manual. About a week later the Manual arrived, and while I'm not a
electronics wizard, I was determined to wade through it and see what I could find.

It turned out that it was much easier than I expected - the timer board and the remote control function board are both still in the machine! And the manual tells how to test some functions with a remote control then the outer case (and therefore the front buttons) was removed by adding a jumper wire to activate the remote control. The manual didn't mention anything to do with the timer, but I hoped if the remote functions were restored, maybe the timer functions would become available. As Sony had deleted all buttons on the -30f that had to do with the timer, and since they had deactivated the remote functions, maybe they left it at that
and didn't mess up the actual tuner board.

I then sent an e-mail to Andy Sanchez, who had done an outstanding job repairing and doing a B1S mod to SL-HF900 I had purchased at eBay. I explained to him what I had and would he like to try and bring back as many functions as possibly to my -30f? He said while he had not heard of this being done before, he was willing to give it a try. So off went my -30f.

Well I have it back from Andy now, with full remote functions, and all timer functions through the remote restored, plus he wired a switch on the machine to give me VTR 1 and VTR 2 command mode control. He also suggested that if I had I later Sony remote with a Rec Mode button I might be able to change recording speeds as the -30f is fixed at BII. The Rec Mode button is on the -9500 is on the pull down panel, and is not present (along with a bunch of buttons) on the -30f panel. The repair manual shows this panel as a sealed unit with no repair parts, so Andy didn't want to take it apart and attempt to modify it.

I did buy a later Sony remote on eBay ($15.85 w/shipping) that had a Rec Mode button, but that function doesn't work with any of my Betas. 

Andy said he had about 9 hours of work into my machine, and the only part he had to add was a jumper wire to the remote board, plus he had to scrape paint off the back of the Plexiglas panel that covers the front of the -30f, so the remote control sensor hole was exposed. That 9 hours included replacing the caps on the video board, plus a general tune up. So the cost of these mods would probably be less that the cost of doing the B1S mod to a 900.

Considering the cost of a EDW-30f at eBay (300-600 or more), compared to a EDV-9500 (1100 and up), this is cheap way to get a "almost" EDV-9500. 

---Steve Nesmith




"How to make a beta head cleaner"


1. Get a beta tape and a dry VHS head cleaning tape.

2. Fast forward both tapes to the end.

3. Carefully open both tapes.

4. Make sure the VHS tape is right side up and cut the tape leaving the leader on the right reel.

5. On the beta tape, cut the tape and leave the leader on the left reel.

6. Replace the left reel in the VHS head cleaner with the empty beta tape reel leaving the reel with the head cleaning tape on the right.

7. Thread and splice the tape back together so when you rewind the tape the head cleaning tape rewinds onto the beta reel.

8. Put VHS tape back together and rewind the tape.

9. When tape is done rewinding take it out of the rewinder or vcr and open it up again.

10. Take the other beta reel with the tape on it and remove the tape. This will take some time but be patient.

11. After that put the beta reel back in the beta tape.

12. Take the beta reel with the head cleaning tape spooled on it out of the head cleaning vhs.

13. Put in beta shell and splice to the leader on the take up reel in the beta tape.

14. Thread the tape back through the beta tape shell and put beta tape back together.

15. Put in beta VCR and follow directions from your VHS cleaning cassette for recommended playing time.


Let me hear from you, folks!  This page is open for any suggestions on owning Betamaxes -- handy tips and tricks, modifications, suggestions, etc.!


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